The nature of every economic sector in the UK has shifted dramatically since the Covid pandemic. Transport, and especially logistics, is an obvious example. The demand for goods, services and materials to be delivered everywhere, particularly at home, has caused a seismic shift in logistics and the growth of the last mile concept. This puts zero emission delivery front and centre as the demand for ‘stuff’ sits alongside the urgency to decarbonise its supply chain.
We know this. We also know that the humble bicycle is at the centre of this revolutionary change in the servicing of our homes, workplace and public services. But do the people right in the middle of this change really understand the role of the bicycle?
Because the cycling industry speaks to the cycling industry, it knows the issues. It is an open secret, but not supported by critical evidence-backed data, that more cargo bikes are being used across our cities. Bicycle Association data points to 50% rise in sales. Fully Charged, the London e-bike retailer, backs that up and reckons that 25% is going to consumers and 25% to commercial usage.
That is key. Commercial usage of cargo bikes and bikes is on the rise. The Bicycle Association, working with its cycling logistics experts, is consolidating evidence – but just observing London streets you can connect the dots between suppliers and customers. Pedal Me and Zedify are both busier than before – pedal Me has expanded its fleet of UrbanArrows to over a 100 now from half that 18 months ago.
The catch is that the managers and security teams of buildings hamper the delivery of goods and services by not knowing how to cope with a cargo bike. The protocol has not been defined for them. It does not figure in the operating and maintenance manuals that all commercial buildings come with (think of an instruction manual for a TV).
If you ever visited a glass-fronted shiny office with a Brompton neatly folded (other brands are available), and been turned away, then you can guess what riders of a Raleigh, Tern or UrbanArrow experience daily.
There are even reports that City of London police regard the proliferation of cargo bikes as a security risk.
The potential for cargo bikes is enormous. Huge. We know that. We ride them. You sell them. You demonstrate (dear reader) that they can carry anything from beer kegs, fridges and office supplies to undertake office relocations and be used for maintenance of lifts, HVAC systems and all manner of repairs.
It is vital that all parts of the facilities management and commercial real estate sector are educated about cargo bikes. What they are; where they can go; what they can carry; who can use them; how to use them safely.
Then they will see what we argue: that cargo bikes can play a fundamental role in decarbonising and improving the movement of goods, services and operations for the FM and CRE community.
We urge FM teams and their colleagues in real estate to find out more: first sign up for a free online seminar about the potential – and management – of cargo bikes, and then come join the experts at to National Cargo Bike Summit on 31 March at Guildhall, London, to find out more.
Andrew Brown is co-founder, Just Ride the Bike
Andrew is a co-founder and director of JRtB and a director of Frank & Brown. He has over 25-years experience in PR, communications and journalism primarily in the built environment. He has direct experience working with infrastructure providers and materials manufacturers as well as the urban environment, workplace and design consultants
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